What Level of Prep is Right For You?

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 The following post was originally publish over at ModernSurvivalOnline.com as part of a recent Guest Post Writing Contest. It can be found in its original state HERE

 

What Level of Prep is Right For You?

by MsKYprepper

 

I don’t like bees or chickens.  I puke at the mere thought of learning to suture a bullet wound.  I don’t expect to ever become completely proficient with a firearm.  I don’t want my home looking like a security fortress.  I don’t have room to store 100’s of #10 food cans and I don’t have the time to accomplish half of the projects that other preppers appear to be excelling at when I read blogs such as this.  Those are the realities of my life. 

 

But neither am I clueless. I don’t have my head stuck in the sand; I will not pillage or plunder and I won’t sit passively, waiting for the government to rescue me. 

 

I was late in joining the preparedness movement, chiefly because of panic.  I felt overwhelmed.  I had too much to do and fretted about having to get it done… where, oh where, to begin.  

 

This begs the question, is there a middle ground?  Knowing that I can’t be prepared for everything, at what level do I want to be prepared?  Or, to think about it in a different way,  “How well do I want to live during and immediately following the event?”   Do I want to eat beans and rice everyday or do I want something more?  Do I need an AK-47 with night sights to feel secure or can I be comfortable with less? 

 

It was only when I finally realized that I didn’t have to keep up with the Prepared-Jones, that I could choose a level of self-reliance that was appropriate for me, I was able to get moving.  I’ve been using the tool below for a few years now.  It has helped me to define how well I want to live during an event.   It allows me to feel accomplished, not in just accumulating a quantity of stuff but in having a certain quality of life.   

 

1.       I desire to be prepared to live with no impact on my life, with no (or very little) outside support for more than 2 years
2.       I desire to be prepared to continue my life as normal with only minor inconvenience for at least 2 years.
3.       I desire to be prepared to live comfortably for more than 1 year.
4.       I desire to be prepared to live comfortably, (including chocolate chip cookies!) with some effort, for at least 1 year.
5.       I desire enough preparations to live safe while eliminating the need for outside support for more than 6 months.
6.       I desire enough preparations to live safe while reducing the need for outside support for at least 6 months.
7.       I desire enough preps to be in place to eliminate the need for outside support for more than 3 months. 
8.       I desire enough preparations to be in place to reduce the amount of outside support required for at least 3 months. 
9.        I desire a few basic preparations to meet life sustaining needs short-term. (3 days or less) Things always work out for me.  I trust in God.   And, FEMA will be here soon. 
10.    I am content with no preparation.  No food or water, fuel, medical supplies, or personal-security currently in stock.  I’ll wait to be rescued

 

As I meet other people who are just waking up to the importance of regaining self-reliance, I recognize that glaze over their eyes.  I sense their panic.   I usually share 2 thoughts: 

 

#1 – Be honest with yourself:  How prepared do you want to be?  On a scale from 1 to 10, how well do you want to live during and immediately following the event.  What is realistic for you, considering time, effort, resources and a comfortable level of self-reliance? 

 

#2 – This is not an all-or-nothing game.  There is no one at a finish line awarding a badge that says, “You are done!  You are now prepared!”  Accept that it will never be done.  Do a little at a time.    Do only what you are comfortable doing.  But do something.  Then do a little something more.   The goal is to keep moving forward.  Keep learning.  But also, to keep your perspective about what’s important.

 

Preparing should make you feel more comfortable and less panicked.  Preparing should assure a certain quality of life.  But never let preparing for tomorrow’s possible disaster over-shadow living in the moment today.  Only then will you be living as well as you want to live.

 

© 2012, Seasoned Citizen Prepper. All rights reserved. On republishing this post you must provide link to original post.

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32 Comments  to  What Level of Prep is Right For You?

  1. Bev says:

    Thank you so much for your insights! Great Read!

    Bev :)

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  2. Suni says:

    What a thought provoking article. Since I am “prepping” for a total of 13 (this includes my kids and grandkids) and have limited space I would like to prep for #1 on this list but reality says I will probably be more on the level of # 4. We do live in a house but it is a small house with just over 1,000 sq. ft. Since my kids all live in their own homes we no longer use our small dinning room. It is turning into my storage room. I recently gave my oldest son our large dinning room table because it took up to much space…. :o(
    Because we do live in a high desert, the food I am storing must be kept inside to extend the shelf life of these foods. I will have to store the water (or at least the bulk of it) outside. Which lends itself to moss and or bacteria growth. I do have at least two ways to purify the water though. I know you must be thinking why I don’t store part of the stuff at the kids house and after a great deal of discussion have come to the conclusion it will be safe here and looked after properly and our house is paid for our son’s houses isn’t and I really don’t want to move this stuff again. The 2 sons and their families will come here instead. Tight on space you bet but I can remember sleeping on floors when I was a kid and went to visit relatives. My husband is putting up a storage building that will also be able to be used for sleeping people if the need should arise. It will have storage of 500 sq. ft. it just wont have air conditioning but then the main house my not either. I have been storing rice, beans, flour, veggies, etc but not MRE’s or ready made meals they are just to expensive. Both my husband, sons and I can cook over an open fire these girls they are married to will learn……… whether they want to or not. I also have a way to do laundry by hand….. Remember the old wash boards and large wash tubs of yesteryear? Yep, I have several. The thing I am lacking is a wringer they are really expensive so am working on that one. We are also in the discussion of long term sanitation needs and have just about come to the conclusion of digging an outhouse and using lime. You should have seen my kids when I brought this up…….. It was quit funny really. I am glad I am the age I am because I can remember using these things, don’t get me wrong I love modern conveyances but I do remember and also know that weren’t that bad. I just wish I was still young enough to be able to go all day long without taking a break or getting tired. My 2 daughter in laws will learn the old ways or I will know the reason why. Prepping for this many people can not be left to just of those of us that do know how to still do things without all the modern conveyances but the youth will also need to learn these skills.

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  3. Johnsobo100 says:

    Good post. I think all of us have had some of the same thoughts or fears, when we started prepping. I liked the two thoughts that MsKyprepper offers to people who are just waking up to what is going on. I agree that there really is no finish line,and you are not going to get a badge that says you are now a prepper. Prepping should be a lifestyle and a mindset that you follow through life.

    I am glad that I married a good "country girl" almost 50 years ago. Sort of give away my age LOL. We have since retired back to her homestead, and the skills and lifestyle she learned, and the ones still being passed down from her parents makes it much easier to be a "prepper".

    We have a great resource in our elders, and especially the older farmers who have skills and knowledge that will soon be forgotten if we don't tap into that knowledge.

    Keep up the good work Bev and Rourke, and all who are posting some great stuff on this site.

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  4. Bev says:

    Great insights Johnsobo100 and Suni!

    Something to think about is how to give the younger generations the gift of survival skills/knowledge. I'm thinking that for the under 40 set and grandkids it might be trying to create "fun" outings... Like camping with idea challenges. You know those campfire chats, introduce "what ifs..." What if we had to camp for 90 days here, what could we do about waste? Cooking? Washing? Cleanliness? Keep the conversation light and fun.
    Sometimes passing on the old skills could be as simple as asking for help. Can you please help me can these tomatoes (and then give them some to take home). Can you please help me figure this out? Even if you know how to do it, it makes them feel valuable.
    Grandkids? Perhaps they are the easiest to teach! Let's wash your Barbie clothes the old time way. Let's pretend we are... mountain men, homesteaders, cowboys, indians, etc. Kids love pretend games and it is a wonderful way to get them to think and do!

    Bev :)

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  5. Suni says:

    Bev,
    You are so totally awesome. Thank you for the ideas about the grandkids. As to the daughter in laws welllllll I have tried that one. Even gave them a class on how to make homemade bread. The entire process plus sent homemade bread home with them. The next time I ask have you made any bread, the response was no, I just didn’t have time, or oh granny you can make better bread than I can. LOL I know you must think I gave up easily but I really didn’t I tried to explain to them I wont always be around. They still have yet to do it and when I mentioned canning to both of them you would have thought I had told them I was going to beat them. The younger girls at least in my neck of the woods are just not interested or they might break a nail or something. Grrrrrrrrrrr I know I must keep trying but I am really not a patient person and when someone wont even try I get frustrated and then I have to leave it alone or else cause a problem I don’t want. If it come down to it they will have to learn or they will be doing without. I don’t mind teaching them but I will not beg them…….. Know what I mean?

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  6. Bev says:

    Reminds me of the old adage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!" So, true!
    Concentrate on the grandkids and start writing things down. Perhaps start a binder "Grandmother's Love: Passing My Knowledge to You" Maybe make it a "scrapbook" style of the gift of old ways tooooo whomever. So often it is hard to come up with gifts for the kids (they seem to have more than we do anymore), but color copies of these pages with a binder, and then add to them on appropriate ocassions could be a greater gift than the actual experience with you--and you wouldn't lose patience! Then you KNOW they have the tools if they need them!

    Hang in there! You are far more an influence than you know! Your lifestyle alone is passing on so many skills and concepts that may not come to fruition even in your lifetime, but are making an impact!

    Bev :)

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    • Suni says:

      Bev, Thank you for the wonderful Idea of Scrapebooking this information for my grandkids..... Hopefully someday they will really see that granny did have a few good ideas. LOL Thank you again :o)

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  7. John from Iowa says:

    I agree! A great read, as well as the comments! Sadly, sometimes folks don't look at the Prepping in a realistic manner. Mostly by not wanting to accept what be the ultimate outcome of a serious disaster. A great example of this is the show 'Doomsday Preppers'. Quite a bit of what I see there is almost laughable. An example being the guy that has the great fantastic garden with Chickens and Geese in an urban area right next to the Freeway in California. He figures he's Prepped! In reality he's Prepped for others that want to stop in and help themselves in a disaster! In this case the location makes this an impossible situation. Sometimes the level of preparation is limited by such things, but must always be considered in the total picture.
    My motto has always been "prepare for the worst, and hope for the best".
    I have seen posts related to canning. A great skill, and I do it too. It's great to make Jams, Salsa, and can those garden veggies. But the key to remember is that it is short term, as you can only store so many lids, and the jars are very fragile. If you are satisfied with short term sustenance, it should work fine for you. Myself, I find it very hard to believe that after a real serious calamity, the world would return to the place we remember and that we could just go to the store and buy more supplies.
    As I mentioned before, Prepping is like buying insurance. As with an insurance policy there are different levels of coverage you can buy, or in this case Prep for.
    As the original post says, there are many different levels of Prepping. In all of them there is a mindset that must be achieved to match each level.There is also reality of hard choices that might need to be made, these are choices that most people would never want to make, but reality dictates otherwise. You must always ask yourself how far you would go to protect your family or resources. Would you share with others or strangers? Where would you draw the line on that? Would you know how to deal with the consequences?
    These are all part of the mental Prepping that most folks figure they'll deal with as it arises. Dealing with it ahead of time, while you're not under stress is a much better approach. Run the scenarios out in your mind, and talk them over with loved ones and family so that you are all on the same page. It will eliminate allot of indecision and confusion at a bad time.

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    • Suni says:

      John from Iowa, I mostly agree with you but where we disagree is on the canning process. They now sell Tattler rings and lids and they are reusable. Yes the jars are fragile but so are most things that are used in the fact at some point in time it will either be used up or broken with no place to buy a replacement. I currently have over 20 dozen empty canning jars, bands and lids this doesn’t include my other types of food storage We also garden which means we harvest our own seeds and replant them the following year. Also the pressure canner that I use is called All American Canner and it doesn’t use gaskets. So no problem there. Even back in the 1800’s they canned their own food. We also hunt and fish although I do think in TEOTWAWKI situation that fish and game will become very rare as a great many more will be doing the same thing. The need to be self renewing IE rabbits, chickens, goats, and if you have the room cattle will be very important. Also my home canned goods will last a very long time well over a year or two which will hopefully give me enough time to harvest and can more.

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      • John from Iowa says:

        Hi Suni!
        I wasn't aware of that lid you mention. I have some jars that use the glass lids and some that use zinc lids and both use rubber rings. I've found that the rings are reusable, but go bad from the use and hot water, and become brittle. Yours is different then?
        Could you post a link to where a person could check out both of these items, and the pressure cooker?
        I agree wild game would become scarce. But with small or large livestock, many things come into play. Food for them is the main one. It is tough enough to stock up food and water for cats or dogs, but likely overwhelming for other animals added. Predation by a growing population wild dogs and hungry people would also be an issue to deal with. With the livestock you are not mobile and you must expose yourself to whatever to care for them. To me livestock would be more of a liability in most cases, but very good for just short term self sufficiency.

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        • Suni says:

          John
          Here are the web sites and also they are on Amazon
          hope this helps
          All American Canners web site http://www.allamericancanner.com/allamericanpressurecanner.htm

          http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004S88Z/ref=s9_bbs_gw_d0_g79_ir01?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1P9E9HPEGS66YEEX0R5Q&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846
          These are on Amazon and they do have the different sizes.

          Tattlers lids web site http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/

          http://www.amazon.com/Tattler-Reusable-Regular-Canning-Rubber/dp/B0051PDXCQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1354733276&sr=1-2&keywords=Tattlers+lids
          These are also on Amazon

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          • John from Iowa says:

            Hey Suni! Thanks!
            These products look great! Are there any do's or dont's with them? They look almost too good to be true! Now I'll have to reasses my canning supplies and setup to match the new long term version of goods!
            Thanks Much!

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  8. Bev says:

    Well said John! Prepping is LIFE ASSURANCE!

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  9. John from Iowa says:

    Yep! Friends of mine have said "you spend all that money on Prepping stuff, what if nothing happens? It's wasted!". I just ask them, "is it any different than when you buy or pay for your insurance?". Peace of mind is the key.

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  10. Bev says:

    Yes Suni, I wasn't aware of those items also! Please, a link!

    John, I somewhat agree with your answer and it all depends on where you live, of course. But for thousands of years our ancestors lived a self-sufficient lifestyle and raised these animals without going to the feed store.

    A very small flock (all you need) of chickens are self-sufficient if left to forage for their food among other livestock and just penned at night. Cabbage is a favorite food of theirs and if grown and stored for them (or just give them your root cellar veggies that go bad) is one way to get them through the winter months. Besides leftovers from the table and what they can scratch up from manure from other animals.

    Rabbits eat grass, plaintain is a favorite, and in general most of what goes in the compost heap. In winter a bit of hay does them fine.

    I LOVE goats! They prefer brush to grass and again a bit of hay goes a long way in the winter.

    For any livestock, the key is to keep numbers down in the winter when you have to supplement feed. Hence, fall butchering time. Keep only the breeding stock and if you can borrow males, so much the less to keep.

    Appropriate breeds for homesteading and self-sufficiency is a whole nother subject!

    Bev :)

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    • John from Iowa says:

      Hi Bev!
      Yes, I've eaten goat and it is tasty! You can get milk too, as a bonus. But need to develop the taste for it. My son actually raises goats for resale, as his wife and daughter will not each them, or any wild game either.
      My problem is location. I choose to live in a very heavily forested area/acreage. There are about 5 packs of coyotes in the area that would love for me to try and raise some smaller livestock! : )
      I'm working on a process to thin them down some, but from what I've heard, they've been prevalent around here for many years. My son lives in a more open environment, and doesn't have a lot of trouble with them. He does usually loose a couple of the young kids each spring to them though.

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  11. Bev says:

    Hey Suni,

    Don't forget your favorite family recipes! "A taste of Granny's Cookin'" :)

    More than a decade ago I did a "Family Cookbook" for Christmas one year for all my brothers and sisters. Favorite family recipes interspersed with inspirational quotes and Biblical Scripture (Yes, it was a testimonial.) Mom is getting up in age and we will lose that taste if the recipes aren't shared.

    It took some time on a print shop copier and I had the covers laminated. Best Christmas present I think I ever made! Loved by all and I was even asked for extra copies, which I couldn't/wouldn't provide, for their friends. That was a lot of work! But truly worth it! They are still cherished by family members!

    The other thing that I did for my Grandmother when she was in her 90s for Christmas (Actually, her last.) was a booklet of HER children's and grandchildren's memories of her and some precious family pictures (Also made copies for the Aunts and Uncles who contributed). She was in the resthome by then and it meant soooo much to her. I understand that she asked someone to read it to her almost every day before she passed. It was a good thing.

    Imagine if you put together a "Granny's Old Ways" book? With pictures and memories... How much that will be cherished by your children and grandchildren, perhaps even great-great-great grandchildren you will never know, but they will know you. And, perhaps, you may even save their lives one day.

    Luv Ya Suni!

    Bev :)

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  12. Bev says:

    John,

    A DONKEY!!!

    One Donkey! Donkeys have been used for predator control forever (Hence sheep and donkeys in the Bible). If your son has one donkey, it will hang with the goats and keep the coyotes and any stray dogs at bay.

    Donkeys eat practically nothing, are incredibly friendly, great with kids, rideable, packable, driveable, and drink beer! Goats drink beer too and get very silly :)

    Goat's milk--one breed Saanan! Tastes just like cows milk the first day, the second and it gets "goaty". Taste the milk before you buy the goat!

    Goat meat is best fixed just like venison or made into sausage or jerked like venison. DO NOT eat an old buck--feed it to the dogs :)

    A herd of geese will also keep coyotes at bay, but in a bad snowly winter the coyotes will get them. Geese and a donkey and you have the coyotes and stray dogs problem covered.

    Bev :)

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  13. Suni says:

    Bev, You have a totally great idea and I think I will start on that “Granny Book” right after Christmas. Thank you, Thank You, Thank You for the idea.

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  14. Bev says:

    You are Welcome Suni!

    Just don't forget pictures of yourself when you were young and pretty! They only remember us as we are old now...

    You know, expanded on this might be a way of getting to so many in our families that we care about but who won't have anything to do with preparedness. Hmmm, I'll have to think on that.

    Bev :)

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  15. John from Iowa says:

    A neighbor down the road raises sheep, and has a big white hairy dog that
    keeps predators away. I think it's called a Great Pyrenees, or something
    like that. It keeps a close eye on them and keeps all the bad stuff away.

    I've always dealt with Got meat the same as Deer. Big Bucks with them, are
    not as good a young Doe either. I'll have to ask my son if he's ever gave
    his goats beer! LOL As bad and ornery as Donkeys can be, I can only imagine
    what kind of pains they could turn into with beer! A drunken Billy sounds
    pretty scary too! I'll likely just save the beer. More for me! (heh..heh)

    John C.

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  16. Bev says:

    Oh you are so funny John!

    Great Pyrenees is right--great herd dogs!

    Goats and beer :) Actually, I had a really nasty Billy, but when he got drunk he was friendly, loving and very silly. Beer is a great solution to stomach problems--acid rumen. Especially if you have given a course of antibiotics it brings the good bugs back.

    I guess I have never met an ornery donkey! They are loving and sweet--are you possibly confusing a mule and a donkey? Mules are only half donkey--horse tail. Donkeys become very, very friendly and cuddly with beer. Kind of like me with a few beers :) LOL If a donkey is being stubborn, give it a few beers and they become rather compliant. But be careful they learn quickly how to drink out of either a can or bottle and will steal yours!

    Beer is wonderful for most equines to get their stomachs going after a course of antibiotics!

    Bev :)

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  17. DougC says:

    Really good info, especially the reusable lids.

    John, just tell people any food bought last year and stored is a great financial investment. 10-15% cheaper than if it is bought today and the gain is tax free! I have cans of soup that I paid $1.00 a can on sale that now regularly sell for $1.50-$1.75

    Food is a great investment on many levels.

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    • Rourke says:

      DougC -

      I use that one many times. I do the grocery shopping in my house so I see the prices all the time. When my wife happens to go to the store with me - she is blown away. In today's economy .10 cents here and .40 cents there ad up. Suddenly a grocery cart that you would have bought for $75.00 a few years ago is now $150.00 and over that time wages have not increased that much.

      Food is definitely a good investment.

      Rourke

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  18. Harriet says:

    I am prepping first for personal SHTF scenarios as to my way of thinking they are inevitable. I am not preparing for an EOTWAWKI. There has never been one of those in my family's history. This is not to say that a TEOTWAWKI couldn't happen, just that I have to put my energy on the most likely.

    It is probable that one day I'll come across a bad car crash or other scenario - so I became an Events first aider so I can get lots of hands on training.

    At some stage we will end up on a very low income - either through job loss or retirement. So I've learned to live frugally and I am also a volunteer at an Opportunity/Thrift shop which gives me access to stuff at half the already low prices. I have a low level stock pile.

    Health is a big issue for me. I'm putting a lot of time into finding ways to be healthy and reduce my need for medications. This is a definite.

    It is probable that we will have an extended grid down event so we have a generator to provide helpful power (refrigeration mainly).

    It is possible we will have an extended period where we will have a loss of water supply. We have three weeks of water and I'm in negotiation with the son of a friend for sharing of his water resources and I share info resources with him (growing things, first aid, books).

    So I guess in a total TEOTWAWKI situation we could only survive for about 3 weeks. I couldn't be healthy if I ate the preps most people store as I can't tolerate grains or beans and expect to be productive (they send me blind and give me disabling gut pain). However, as I said earlier a TEOTWAWKI is unlikely. Personal SHTF is a definite. I prepare for those occasions.

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  19. Bev says:

    Good to hear from you Harriet!
    Personal SHTF done happened to me already :) I've heard it said that all it takes is one serious illness to put 90% of Americans into bankruptcy, guess I'm there.
    That you bring up working with a neighbor is very positive! You have neighbors who are willing to think of the unthinkable! Good for you!
    Don't discount yourself at 3 weeks of preps. Most of us have packed on a few pounds and know how to do the least to get the most from it. A winter on snow, elk meat and pancakes and you will appreciate the greens of spring and horde yet more food!
    Keep writing!

    Bev :)

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  20. John form Iowa says:

    I spoke to my son about it, and he said that he had a donkey at one time to
    watch the goats. He said the females aren't bad, but the males are unless
    you get them fixed. He said he never tried giving them beer though.

    I should have known that you liked beer, as that's a part of living in the
    north country. One of my favorite things was to sample the different beers
    when I went up north camping and fishing. It was mostly upper Wisconsin
    though, around Hayward. I came to love Leinenkugel beer! There's allot of
    good people up there but I've heard the winters are awful long. I always
    laughed at how there was a roadhouse/bar within 5 miles down any road! I'm
    about betting it's much the same where you live?

    John C.

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  21. Bev says:

    Your son is right about male donkeys, they are only thinking about one thing with those darn things on! :)

    Yes, you are right about most of Minnesota, a bar on every corner and down the road not too far. But I think Wisconsin has more! However, this town I am in now is close to the Iowa border and is a very odd little town, 12 churches and 3 bars--something is very wrong HERE! :) LOL

    Bev :)

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  22. Wyzyrd says:

    Goat, that's not too old, is absolutely DELICIOUS. (Supposedly, the most commonly eaten meat on Earth). Don't let it scare you,
    more than worth a try.

    The few advantages to the 'creeping suburbanization' in my area, are that there is now a very, very good Jamaican cafe that makes wonderful curry (and jerk) goat, and a larger Latin supermarket where I can get fresh goat meat (though I still get odd looks from the checkout folks when the old Gringo guy buys 'cabrito' :) )

    A couple years ago, I had to go out of town on business for about a week, and my 17-y.o. daughter house-and-cat-sat for me.
    My ex came out to visit her, and she shocked her mom by not going to a chain-restaurant, but taking her to the neighborhood Jamaican place and saying "You GOTTA try this goat!" I was proud :)

    I don't have any 'granny' family recipes, because I learned to cook purely in self-defense. I do have a collection of mine that was supposed to go into a charity cookbook to help pay for my boss' gf's chemo. Will see if I can export them into a web-friendly format, post them on one of my sites and send Roarke and Bev a link, if there is any interest. (I guess 'grandpa' recipes count too.. I found out about a month ago that I officially am one of those)

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  23. Bev says:

    Wyzyrd, great to have you jump in! Would LOVE goat meat recipes!

    Congrats on becoming a Grandpa!

    Bev :)

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